ALEX'S OSCARS 2018

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Every year I do my own Oscars. I find the entire awards process, of pretty much anything, inspiring in a strange way. I think with age I’ve come to appreciate the criticism that people have on artistic judgement. It’s completely subjective. You can’t state “the best” of anything that’s. HOWEVER, it’s really fun to do so anyways. But you have to know that it i’s subjective to each individual. Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, my buddy Dylan and I have been pretty much enthralled with the Oscars circuit. I remember this because we saw the movie The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson, which I consider one of my favourite films of all time, and we fucking hated it. I mean we thought this movie was a boring piece of garbage. Why? Because we were punching well above our weight. It honestly only took us maybe 2 more years to realize how fantastic this film was and how it’s undeniably talented filmmaker was about to term his own name as a style of filmmaking. As a filmmaker in the field, I can’t tell you how many times I hear the term “a Wes Anderson shot”. What an achievement if you really think about it.

But with all of this nonsense about myself, I want to discuss (as usual) the films that I found to be absolutely exceptional in the 2017 race. Keep in mind, I haven’t seen every film that you’ve probably noticed on the film festival circuit. There are a few that I am still waiting to see. Some include The Darkest Hour with one of my favourite actors Gary Oldman, The Big Sick, Mudbound, The Florida Project, All the money in the world, Molly’s Game, Victoria & Abdul, War for the Planet of the Apes, Coco, and a shit load more that deserve recognition but because of the budgets of their marketing department, will never get the light shed that they are due. 

Without further a due, or… due? A dew? A mountain dew…. Without a further mountain dew… nailed it. Here are my thoughts on the best films of the year and their above the line creatives:


Best Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat - The Shape of Water
  • Hans Zimmer - Dunkirk 
  • Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch - Blade Runner 2049
  • Johnny Greenwood - Phantom Thread
  • Carter Burwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

and the winner is… Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water

I have two ear crushes. One of them is on Hans Zimmer. His tone, his ambience, his style of music just speaks to me. Everything he does, and especially does with Christopher Nolan, just resonates with me. It’s so epic, yet subtle. it’s so emotional, yet so bleak. I don’t know how he does it, he just punches me in the emotional gut and doesn’t stop until the movie is over. It’s almost as if he and Nolan say, “You wanna piss everyone off and be a better duo than Williams and Spielberg?” which the other responds, “Chyeah!”. The other is Johnny Greenwood and PTA. This duo is so grossly compatible that they can make three different films with completely different feels and vibes and still somehow have three scores that feel like they were created by three different composers and even directors. It’s mesmerizing. HOWEVER, Alexandre Desplat is an absolute genius in every way. His work with Wes Anderson speaks to this. But this movie reminds me of the brilliance of Howard Shore’s score to Hugo, as well as the entire history of Paris. And somehow that blends in perfectly with this Baltimore set monster tale directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I’ve listened to it on repeat several times. It’s a score for the ages. 


Best Cinematography:

  • Hoyte Von Hoytema - Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water 
  • Roger Deakins - Blade Runner 2049
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom - Call Me By Your Name
  • Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread

and the winer is… Hoyte Von Hoytema for Dunkirk

I’ve had a boner for anything Roger Deakins did since I was… I dunno… sperm. And I will continue to do so (and so will everyone else.) I’m still pissed that somehow he lost for both The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country For Old Men in the same year, while I feel that both rivalled some of the best cinematography performances of all time (not to discredit Robert Elswitt’s work on There Will Be Blood. It truly was fantastic.) But I would’ve given it to both of Deakins’ work that year first. I’m embarrassed to say that this year over his AMAZING work on Blade Runner 2049, I’d have to say that Hoyte Von Hoytema’s work on Dunkirk is like nothing we’ve seen before in cinema. Mounting 70 MM IMAX cameras to an active WWII vessel is just…. not done. And if it’s done… it’s gonna be Nolan. What a stunning film. 


Best Screenplay: 

  • Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
  • Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Jordan Peele - Get Out 
  • I, Tonya
  • James Ivory - Call me by your name

and the winner is… Martin McDonagh for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is probably one of the most loaded categories this year. Every screenplay above is insane as well as so many more, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water, more and more, but it’s about goddamn time that McDonagh gets some serious recognition. He was nominated for In Bruges (which lost to Dustin Lance Black’s Milk) which I feel should’ve won, and only really tapped into the midnight crowd with Seven Psychopaths which in my opinion was one of the most original screenplays in years. But this film screams originality, something he is never short on providing us. It’s his characters and the absurd shit that comes out of their mouths. You can’t help but think, “How does this guy come up with this!?” What a brilliant mind that lies within Martin McDonagh. 


Best Supporting Actress:

  • Allison Janney - I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalfe - Lady Bird 
  • Nicole Kidman - The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Rooney Mara - A Ghost Story
  • Samara Weaving - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

and the winner is… Allison Janney for I, Tonya

This is one of those roles that you feel like can’t be argued with. There’s something about Allison Janney that’s so raw you almost feel intimidated to even challenge her. I only realized this when I was introduced to the subtlety of black comedy in the form of a beauty pageant drama known as Drop Dead Gorgeous. A movie so brilliant that it passed under everyone’s radar. Kirsten Dunst, Kristie Alley, Denise Richards, Amy Adams and the incomparable Allison Janney. She is so versatile that she can transform any role into an oscar contender. Just… goddamn… she’s that good. 


Best Supporting Actor:

  • Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Michael Stuhlbarg - Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water
  • Sebastian Stan - I, Tonya
  • Michael Shannon - The Shape of Water

and the winners are…. Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Michael Stuhlbarg for Call Me By Your Name

I had to pick two here. When I first saw Three Billboards, I instantly knew that Rockwell would get nominated, and may even win (and am so happy to see he is sweeping this years award circuit. He is well overdue in this field. He was robbed from the awards season run with Moon.) I also knew that Woody Harrelson would get some recognition in the same vein as Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals. Those powerful very subtle roles never go un-noticed at the last awards show of the season. But the real injustice that I have found with this years awards circuit was Michael Stuhblarg’s absence on the nominations boards (with the exception of the BAFTAs.) His performance in CMBYN is so goddamn good that it reminds me of what an incredible actor he is. Being in three of this years best picture race just reinforces this man’s talents. But it was his speech scene in CMBYN that brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart in the final moments of the film. Anyone who has seen the film or read the book will agree that it’s as good as a dramatic scene can be. What a powerhouse actor. 


Best Actor:

  • Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
  • Armie Hammer - Call Me By Your Name
  • James Franco - The Disaster Artist
  • Robert Pattinson - Good Time
  • Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out 

and the winner is…. Timothee Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name

I am so happy for Gary Oldman and his success with The Darkest Hour, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t speak to it. That being said, I can’t imagine a more powerful performance than Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name this year. The fact that this kid was 20 years old when he shot this film is mind blowing. The courage, the comfort, and the balls it must’ve taken both Chalamet and Hammer (snubbed this year) to perform these scenes is nothing short of remarkable. A film that truly represents love in it’s most basic form, these two actors bring the story alive in an incredible form. If you don’t feel moved by this film, it may not be because you can’t watch a story about homosexual love, it may just be because you have no soul. Chalamet is a force to be reckoned with. 


Best Actress:

  • Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Sally Hawkins - The Shape of Water
  • Meryl Streep - The Post
  • Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
  • Saorisa Ronan - Lady Bird 

and the winner is… Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve loved Frances McDormand ever since I saw Fargo at an inappropriately young age. I loved her character so goddamn much because of one reason… I believed her. I believed that she was just that good of a person. She is one of those actors that just pulls you into her web and can make you believe anything (much like Meryl Streep). But there’s something very raw and endearing about Frances McDormand within film. Almost like she is unapologetically going to play the role however the fuck she wants. And this role is the true definition of an unapologetic badass mother who will stop at nothing to find her daughter’s killer… and again… I believe her. A fantastic performance. 


Best Director:

  • Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Luca Guadagnino - Call Me By Your name
  • Guillermo Del Toro - The Shape of Water
  • Craig Gillespie - I, Tonya 
  • Jordan Peele - Get Out
  • Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
  • Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird 

and the winer is… Craig Gillespie for I, Tonya

I don’t understand why Gillespie didn’t hit any of the nomination lists with this film. In my opinion, I, Tonya deserves so much more credit in a lot of categories. Most deservingly I think Gillespie’s work directing this absurd black comedy was dark comedy perfection. My buddy Dylan nearly dragged me to this movie at the Toronto International Film Festival. I had only heard the name Tonya Harding when I was young. One of those names that you don’t know what it relates to, but you know the name. When he told me the plot, I had no interest. But nothing else was playing during that time so I agreed. When I left, I said “That is the exact type of film that I want to make.” It’s a film that makes you feel literally every feeling, while still circling around this dark comedic core. My directing partner, Jay Drakulic, once described to me why Drive is one of his favourite films and why Winding-Refn was the best man for the job. He said (not verbatim), “If you took that same script and gave it to 9 other directors, you’d get the same film. But Refn was the only filmmaker to do something truly different with it.” I believe the same applies to I, Tonya. A fantastic film that had an incredible cast, an incredible script, and incredible direction. 


Best Picture:

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • I, Tonya
  • Get Out
  • Dunkirk

and the winner is…. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I can’t recommend this film enough. Everything works. It’s that simple. It’s dramatic, comedic, horrific gold. Just go see it for yourself.